There are certain times of year that are exciting whoever you are. Waking up on Christmas morning, surrounded by stuffed stockings and ill-tempered family members. Arriving home to find a surprise birthday party waiting for you in the kitchen. As great as these annual highlights are, they pale into insignificance when compared to the global jamboree that is McDonald’s Monopoly.
Since first launching in 1987, the fast food version of the classic board game has had millions around the world eagerly tearing into Happy Meals and hamburgers in a mad bid to collect stickers and match prizes. And what prizes! Competitors can win anything from free food, to games consoles, to $1 million in cash. All you have to do is debase yourself by eating as much junk as possible. No wonder we’ve lapped it up for more than two decades.
Until recently, McDonald’s Monopoly seemed like a relatively benign influence on the world. People were getting fatter, happier and richer and all seemed to be proceeding relatively smoothly. But, behind the scenes, dark forces have been afoot. Unbeknownst to the powers that be at Maccies HQ, the innocent joy of trying to find Mayfair as you slowly poison yourself has been ruined by a group of people who have rigged the game.
Last weekend, it was reported in The Daily Beast that the famous promotion had been at the centre of a fraud that had run undetected for over a decade. Ex-police officer Jerome Jacobsen, along with a dastardly crew of cutthroats and pretend property developers, spent 12-years abusing his position as a McDonald’s security guard to siphon off the best prizes and distribute them amongst themselves. The extent of their deception, which included almost all the rarest stickers in the US, was worth an estimated $24 million and may have involved members of the Colombo Mafia Family. It’s a plot worthy of Hollywood.
It should surprise no one, therefore, that movie producers have been chomping at the bit to get in on the action. After lengthy negotiations between several different studios, it has recently been announced that Boston duo Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are gearing up to take the helm, with Damon playing the role of Jacobsen and Affleck directing.
The New England double act weren’t the only big names apparently interested in the project. According to Deadline, several other studios put forward their own suggestions for the crime caper. Universal allegedly imagined Kevin Hart as the lead, whilst Warner Bros. and Netflix imagined Steve Carell and Robert Downey Jr. respectively. Much luck McDonald’s Monopoly, movie making can be all about the luck of the draw.
Though there is no word yet on an official release date for the feature, it promises to be a thrill ride. Though the official investigation came to an end in 2001, tantalising tidbits of information are only now being released to the public, such as the family that received three million dollar prizes and a Dodge Viper thanks to Jacobsen. Though the McDonald’s fraud is definitely a stain on the noble name of Monopoly, at least it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel. When the team behind Good Will Hunting decide to work with fast food, only good things can follow.